A Crumbling Heritage

A Crumbling Heritage

Datur Meher Road – Pune Cantonment’s colonial heritage street

As rest of Pune evolved this street seems to be frozen in time. It is a street that I pass through almost on a daily basis and it still has a mix of European and Indian architecture largely as it was in the 1910’s and 1920’s. Now it seems to be sagging and ageing quite rapidly. This has led me to document our crumbling heritage through my sketches.

Pune cantonment was established by the British military when they set up a base in Pune. Traders from diverse communities supporting the needs of the British military settled on Dastur Meher road in the Cantonment area.


The buildings on this street abut each other and the rooftops of these 2 or 3 storied houses have an unbroken chain of tiled roofing desperately needing repair..


This street was the last outpost to Camp. On one side was Main Street and the cantonment and on the other side was the congested old city of Pune. There are stories of how people had to pay more to the rickshawallahs just to cross the city limits to the cantonment.

The cantonment laws of that time allowed business premises and shops on the ground floor and living quarters above, for the Indian traders on this street. Shops are still inspected in the cantonment like in the British era to maintain hygiene standards. Sunnydale’s is a famous store on this street.


Despite strict Cantonment building rules during the British era, Indians were allowed to follow their inclination as far as plan, design or facades were concerned leading to a diverse mix of architecture styles. The ground floor apartment of 861 Dastur meher road apartment has seen many generations of the same family residing here for the past 70 years. This building wears its ethnicity clearly during Christmas.


The attic windows kept the homes cool in the hottest of Pune summers. The high plinths helped reduce humidity and the influence of vapours from the ground. Doors and windows were placed opposite each other to create cross ventilation. The beautiful coloured glass in the windows and the timber frames continue to be a testament to British architectural influences.

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